NKorea to decline six-party talks

SEOUL: North Korea on Monday reiterated it would not return to six-party talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear weapons programmes, but suggested it was still open to some form of dialogue, state media reported.

"Any attempt to side with those who claim the resumption of the six-party talks without grasping the essence of the matter will not help ease tension," a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by state media.

"There is a specific and reserved form of dialogue that can address the current situation."

The spokesman did not elaborate on what form such a dialogue could take.

North Korea's UN envoy, Sin Son-Ho, said Friday that Pyongyang was not opposed to negotiations with the US, but that it would not return to the six-party format.

The North quit the multilateral disarmament talks after the UN Security Council censured it for a long-range rocket launch in April. In May it also staged its second nuclear test.

The Council has since imposed tougher sanctions, including an expanded arms embargo and beefed up inspections of air, sea and land shipments going to and from North Korea.

A travel ban has also been imposed on Pyongyang officials suspected of being involved in the country's nuclear and missile programmes.

The United States has urged the international community to continue to pressure North Korea to return to the six-party talks -- which include the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.